WELLINGTON: The All Blacks have recalled Waisake Naholo for the second Test against the British and Irish Lions in Wellington on Saturday as they look to wrap up the series with a game to spare.
New All Black Ngani Laumape has been added to the bench in a second injury-forced change from the side that won the first Test 30-8 in Auckland last week.
Naholo takes the right wing role with Israel Dagg moving to fullback to replace Ben Smith (concussion), while Anton Lienert-Brown starts at centre for Ryan Crotty (hamstring) with Laumape in the reserves.
Naholo starred in the Otago Highlanders’ 23-22 win over the Lions while the blockbusting Laumape is the leading tryscorer in Super Rugby this year.
“Whilst it’s disappointing to lose both Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty, it creates an opportunity for others,” All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said.
“Izzy (Israel Dagg) is a world-class back three player, as is Anton in the midfield, and both Waisake and Ngani are coming into the Test side following outstanding performances against the Lions for their respective Super franchises.”
The recall for Naholo means for the second consecutive Test the All Blacks have been unable to find room for prolific try-scorer Julian Savea.
Hansen has retained the remainder of the starting side and bench from the first Test where the forwards were dominant in the battle for possession.
However, despite that commanding performance he said talked up the Lions and said there was no room for complacency in the All Blacks camp.
“The job is far from done. It's going to require us to take our game to a higher level. It's going to be very demanding, physically and mentally, on both sides,” he said.
“We’re aware the British and Irish Lions have their backs to the wall and will chuck everything at us to keep themselves alive in the series. They are a quality side who we respect immensely.
“In reality, last week’s Test could’ve gone either way had they taken more of their chances. Our job will be to make sure that we shut down their counter-attack better than we did last weekend and at the same time, win the critical moments across the 80 minutes.”
15. Israel Dagg, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (capt), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody. Bench: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ngani Laumape.